After fighting against the passage of Amendment 64 in Colorado and publicly questioning the wisdom of voters in the years since his state made marijuana legal for adults, it appears the Gov. John Hickenlooper is finally realizing that regulating marijuana was a good idea.
The Denver Post reports:
And now this headline — “Colorado Gov.: Pot is ‘not as vexing as we thought it was going to be’ (video)” — tied to “Opening Bell” host Maria Bartiromo’s interview with Hickenlooper at the Milken Institute Global Conference, which runs through today.
“It’s all those young people coming, and they look at marijuana and say, ‘Hey we can drink whiskey, why can’t we have a legalized system with marijuana?’ If you look back it’s turned out to not be as vexing as some of the people like myself — I opposed the original vote, didn’t think it was a good idea. Now the voters spoke so we’re trying to make it work, and I think we are.["]
Colorado-rooted legalization advocate Mason Tvert said he welcomes the governor’s new turn.
“It’s great to see the governor recognizes that regulating marijuana is working in Colorado and that it has many benefits,” said Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Polls show more voters support the law now than did when it was approved, and it appears he might be part of that late majority.
“Just about everyone who takes an objective look at what is happening in Colorado agrees that things are going quite well.”
You can watch the video at Fox Business News.
Watch the latest video at video.foxbusiness.com
Echoing results from last September, a new poll shows that an even greater percentage of Coloradans are happy with their marijuana laws.
From Denver Post:
More than 13 months after recreational pot sales first started in Colorado, residents of the state still support marijuana legalization by a definitive margin, according to a new Quinnipiac University Poll released Tuesday.
When asked, “Do you still support or oppose this law?” 58 percent of respondents said they support the pot-legalizing Amendment 64 while 38 percent said they oppose it. Men support legalization (63 percent) more than women (53 percent). And among the 18-34 age demographic, of course, there was more support of legal pot (82 percent) than among voters 55 and older (50 percent against).
The new numbers show a certain kind of progress for legal marijuana in Colorado. In the 2012 election, Amendment 64 passed 54.8 percent to 45.1 percent, and a December 2014 poll by The Denver Post found that more than 90 percent of the respondents who voted in the 2012 election said they would vote the same way today.
Colorado marijuana businesses may soon be able to move away from using cash-only systems.
According to The Denver Post:
The Colorado Division of Financial Services … issued Fourth Corner Credit Union an unconditional charter to operate, the first state credit-union charter issued in nearly a decade.
The next hurdles will be obtaining insurance from the National Credit Union Administration, the federal regulator of credit unions, and getting a master account from the Federal Reserve System.
Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office called the charter “the end of the line” for the state’s efforts to solve the marijuana industry’s nagging problem: obtaining banking services. Although the NCUA insurance is not guaranteed — sale and consumption of marijuana remain illegal under federal law — Fourth Corner can operate until NCUA makes its decision.
“A Colorado law of 1981 allows a credit union to open its doors while an application for share-deposit insurance is pending,” said attorney Mark Mason, one of Fourth Corner’s key organizers.
Currently, many banks and other financial service providers have been unwilling to work with the marijuana industry out of fear of violating federal law. Some lawmakers have been trying to address this issue with the help of the National Cannabis Industry Association, but until they are successful, such credit unions may be the only solution available to marijuana businesses.
According to The Denver Post, late Friday, the NFLPA unanimously approved the terms of a new drug policy that includes the implementation of testing for Human Growth Hormone — a performance enhancing drug — as well as an increase in the threshold for testing positive for marijuana.
The agreement with the NFL and NFLPA opens up the possibility for players suspended on drug policy violations to return to the field. Cleveland.com reported that Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns receiver, will have his suspension reduced from a season-long ban to 10 games once the new drug policy is finalized and formally approved.
“This is a historic moment for our players and our league,” NFLPA president Eric Winston said in a statement. “We have collectively bargained drug policies that will keep the game clean and safe, but also provide players with an unprecedented level of fairness and transparency. Players should be proud of their union for standing up for what was best for the game.”
Although the threshold for a positive test for marijuana will increase to 35 ng/ml from the previous 15 ng/ml, the new marijuana threshold is a standard much lower than those used in most other sports. The threshold for a positive test for marijuana should have increased to the 150 ng/ml limit — used by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which conducts Olympic athlete testing — that was originally suggested.
Moreover, the new terms of the drug policy still prove draconian given the chronic pain endured by most NFL players and the fact that, by most measures, the use of medical marijuana to relieve pain is far less harmful than the prescription painkillers that players currently rely on.
As former player Nate Jackson recently stated in a New York Times op-ed, “Virtually every single player in the NFL has a certifiable need for medical marijuana.”
In this case, the fact that players are still not permitted to use medical marijuana is inexplicable — even when 15 teams are based in states where medical marijuana can be recommended legally and most, if not all, players have a very legitimate need for it.
According to the Denver Post, for-profit companies will not be awarded funding for state-supported medical marijuana research, under the terms of the grant program released Wednesday. However, for-profit firms will be approved as subcontractors on grant proposals.
In the official request for applications, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment indicates that only certain institutions are qualified to apply as primary recipients for the $9 million in available research grant money to study the benefits of medical marijuana, including “not-for profit organizations, health care organizations, governmental entities and higher education institutions.” In addition, there is no requirement for eligible applicants to be based in Colorado.
Although Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper (D) already signed a bill in May allowing the state to fund up to $10 million for research into the medical efficacy of marijuana, health department officials are still hoping that researchers will be allowed, for the first time, to conduct clinical or observational trials using the kinds of marijuana products that are already available in Colorado’s medical-marijuana system.
“Colorado is a national leader in the development of new strains of marijuana and its component parts that appear to have promising therapeutic effects,” the application request states.
[MPP emphasis added]
However, restrictions limiting the applicants eligible for the grants, on top of existing concerns about federal funding and oversight, only further complicate the research proposals. All of the complications involved in the process demonstrate the federal government’s ongoing efforts to hinder the study of the benefits of medical marijuana.
According to a Denver Post story, Colorado is scheduled to begin administering significant funding for the largest ever state-supported medical marijuana research grant program starting in early 2015. It is anticipated that Colorado’s health department will release the program’s official request for applications sometime this week. The state expects to deliver $9 million geared towards research on the medical effects of marijuana. There is, however, skepticism over who will be able to accept funding for the research program due to marijuana’s federally illegal status.
At a recent meeting, several members of the health department questioned whether or not university-based researchers would be able to participate in the research program without first receiving approval from the federal government. Some members fear that the university review boards may disapprove of projects that are seen as being too controversial or as threats to the university’s federal funding, regardless of state-funded approval for the research.
As stated by the health department’s executive director, Dr. Larry Wolk, “It’s going to be a challenge for the applicant.” Although, Dr. Paula Riggs, a council member who is an addiction medicine specialist at the University of Colorado, said researchers can reduce that concern by getting approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration, but such approval typically takes a long time. “You can do it,” she said, “but you have to jump through hoops.”
[MPP emphasis added]
With the Governor of Colorado signing a law allowing the state to fund up to $10 million for research into the medical benefits of marijuana, the state has demonstrated its ability to jump through the federal government’s “hoops.” What remains now is the issue of eliminating the obstacles brought upon by the federal government in giving researchers the opportunity to investigate the benefits medical marijuana.
Spurred on by recent stories of epileptic children finding relief by using marijuana extracts that contain high amounts of cannabidiol (CBD), lawmakers have begun adopting bills allowing for medical marijuana to be used as long as it is minimally psychoactive, the Denver Post reports. The oil in these stories is made from specific strains of marijuana that are high in CBD and low in THC, the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana. The CBD-rich oils have been shown to dramatically decrease the frequency and severity of seizures in many cases, though conclusive research is still lacking at the present. However, the potential of CBD-rich marijuana’s effects has generated a lot of public interest. The laws, advocates argue, may only be symbolic. Because laws in states like Alabama are so limited in scope, they are likely to be practically impossible to enforce. Still, others believe that these laws are but the first steps on the road towards greater acceptance and more legislation allowing the medical use of marijuana.
Unfortunately, these bills do little to help the vast majority of patients who could benefit from using whole-plant marijuana and its extracts. In most medical marijuana states, seizure sufferers make up only a small percentage of total licensed patients. Low-THC marijuana products are not effective in treating many of the conditions for which marijuana has been shown to be beneficial, particularly chronic pain.
Congratulations to Liz Wohl, this year’s adult runner-up in the Denver Post Peeps diorama and sculpture contest. Wohl’s "Peeposition 64: Peeps' Bake-Off" depicts Peeps responsibly enjoying the newly legalized marijuana in the comfort of their own home.
She says she thought about dressing her Peeps in tie-dye and dreadlocks, but "didn't want to be cliche. It's a nice house, they're in compliance — they have their six plants," says Wohl. She added a Gov. Peepenlooper to the party, complete with Goldfish crackers and Cheetos. Judges liked the topicality, details and humor of this one.
Colorado medical marijuana advocates and a group of local veterans filed a petition with the state health department yesterday that would add post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in Colorado.
The petition was formally filed by Army veteran and double amputee Kevin Grimsinger, who lost parts of both legs and suffered other injuries after stepping on a landmine in Afghanistan in 2001. That episode has also left him stricken with PTSD. From Denver Post columnist Susan Greene:
That means flashbacks. It means struggling to sleep and thinking about suicide more often than he cares to admit. His nightmares are constant, he says. "They're bloody, they're noisy and they're gory."
After two years in hospitals, Grimsinger was released addicted "to every pain medication known to man," he tells me. It wasn't until turning to therapeutic cannabis, along with other prescriptions, that he says he has been able to function. Medical marijuana doesn't take away his trauma. But it gives him a break long enough to sleep.
We’ve written previously about studies showing how marijuana can alleviate the symptoms of PTSD, how New Mexico has already added it to that state’s list of qualifying conditions, and how some Colorado officials and even the Department of Veterans Affairs have thus far opposed efforts to make medical marijuana available to PTSD patients and other veterans in need.
As Sensible Colorado’s Brian Vicente, who helped file the petition, told Denver’s Westword: “We've been hearing from veterans for years who have been injured in the line of duty protecting our country and have PTSD related to that. And they're concerned about the lack of veteran access for medical marijuana for PTSD. Currently, veterans face criminal prosecution for possessing or using medical marijuana to alleviate any sort of medical condition, and we just think that's unconscionable. People who have served our country deserve the best access to health care possible, and we want to make sure Kevin and folks like him have that access.”